The Yiddish
Philharmonic Chorus
The Yiddish Philharmonic

Keeping Yiddish choral music alive! דער ייִדישער
פֿילהאַרמאָנישער כאָר

Yiddish Philharmonic Chorus Milestones 1922-

The Freiheit Gezang Farein, 1923

1922 - The Freiheit Gezang Farein (FGF) is founded by conductor/composer Lazar Weiner on New York’s Lower East Side
1923 - Sat., Feb. 23, Carnegie Hall - FGF gives its first concert, including a song that was to be a staple of its repertoire for some 20 years: “Di Internatsionale”
1925 - The Jewish Workers Music Alliance (Der yidish-muzikalisher arbeter-farband) is founded as funding organization for many Yiddish choruses. During its 60-year existence, the Alliance publishes 7-8 collections of Yiddish choral works and solo works (first under the title “Mit gezang tsum kamf”, then “Gezang un kamf”), edited by FGF conductors Jacob Schaefer and Max Helfman
1926 - Feb. 20, Mecca Temple, NYC - The FGF, conducted by Weiner, debuts Jacob Schaefer’s oratorio, Tsvey Brider, the first time a Yiddish chorus performed with an orchestra
1926-36 - Jacob Schaefer conducts the FGF, at its height a 300-singer chorus
1920s - Choruses of the International Workers Order / IWO (“ordn-khorn”) spring up all over the city (Washington Heights, Brighton, Brownsville, Coney Island, Kings Highway, Jamaica, two in the Bronx, the “Downtown” and the “Yugnt” branch), the tri-state area (Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Farmer’s Chorus and Connecticut) and the country (Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Bay Area, Los Angeles, Petaluma). There were 30 in all, nationwide
1932 - “Mit gezang tsum kamf - Songs for Voice and Piano” published by the International Workers Order, compiled and arranged by Jacob Schaefer
1934 - “Gezang un kamf”, the 2nd in the series, now with a new name, and now published by Der yidisher muzikalisher arbeter-farband / IMAF (106 E 14 St, NYC), complied and edited by Jacob Schaefer
1935-40 - “Gezang un kamf”, issues 3 through 8, are published, one each year, edited by Schaefer through 1936, Helfman from 1938-1940, and a combination of the two for the issue that was published in 1937
1936 - Schaefer passes away suddenly at age forty-eight
1936-48 - Max Helfman conducts the FGF
1937 - The Jewish Workers Music Alliance changes its name to the Jewish Music Alliance (Der yidisher muzik-farband)
1938 - Freiheit newspaper editor Moyshe Olgin passes away. A force in the creation and continuation of the FGF, Olgin is memorialized by the song “Mir zogn tsu” (words: Yuri Suhl; music: Max Helfman), which becomes a staple of the FGF’s repertoire
1948 - The FGF changes its name to the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus
1948 - Sun. eve, June 13, Carnegie Hall - Max Helfman’s final concert with the Chorus and premiere of Helfman’s “Di Naye Hagode”, his haunting setting of Itsik Fefer’s epic poem, “Di shotns fun varshever geto” (Shadows of the Warsaw Ghetto)
1948-52 - Dr Leon Kopf, German refugee, conducts the JPPC. The earliest Chorus recording dates from this period
1952-60 - Eugene (Yehuda) Malek conducts the JPPC
1953 - The first annual concert of the Jewish Cultural Clubs and Societies features the sister chorus of the JPPC, the Jewish People’s Chorus of New York (JPCNY) conducted by Maurice Rauch, performing the first of many dramatic chorales written by Itche Goldberg in collaboration with Rauch as composer

The Jewish People's Philharmonic Chorus (JPPC), 1964

1958/59 - The JPCNY makes two recordings: A Goldfaden Collection, and the folk-operetta adapted from Sholom Aleichem stories, Sholem Aleichem Dir, Amerike! (libretto: Martin Birnbaum, music: Maurice Rauch)
1960-71 - The JPCNY merges into the JPPC and Maurice Rauch becomes conductor of the “new” chorus. During Rauch’s tenure, the JPPC records Schaefer’s Tsvey Brider (1967), the last recording of the Chorus, until 2006
1971-72 - Oscar Julius conducts the JPPC
1972-78 - Maurice Rauch returns to conduct the JPPC
1978-80 - Franco Rossi conducts the JPPC
1980 - Rauch conducts one concert for the JPPC
1980-84 - Madeline Simon is the JPPC’s first female conductor
1984-95 - Peter Schlosser conducts the JPPC
1985 - The Jewish Music Alliance merges into the Zhitlowsky Foundation
1995 - Binyumen Schaechter takes over as conductor of the JPPC
1998 - JPPC begins year-round Outreach Concerts throughout NYC tri-state area, from Town Hall to the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The JPPC becomes arguably the first Yiddish chorus ever to sing a cappella and selectively mixed (not in vocal sections)
2000, 2001, 2003 - The JPPC is one of only two Yiddish choruses to perform at the North American Jewish Choral Festival at the Nevele Hotel, Ellenville, NY
2000 - The JPPC becomes the first Yiddish chorus to perform on the World Trade Center Plaza
2001 - The JPPC sings for a Chanuka Memorial Ceremony at Ground Zero, site of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks
2002, 2005, 2006 - The JPPC is the only Jewish chorus to perform at the New York International Choral Festival at Alice Tully Hall (Lincoln Center)
2003 - The Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus celebrates 80 years of preserving, creating, and sharing Yiddish song, becoming the world’s longest continually operating Jewish chorus
2005 - The JPPC is the first Yiddish chorus to perform at Shea Stadium (Queens, NY), singing our National Anthem at the NY Mets’ Jewish Heritage Day, as well as Mark Zuckerman’s choral arrangement of “America the Beautiful” in Yiddish (“Amerike di prekhtike”)
2006 - The JPPC releases its first CD, the Chorus’ first recording in 39 years
2007 - The JPPC records its first live-in-concert DVD, which was then released in 2009
2007 - The JPPC for the first time is filmed and recorded for a feature film, “Tickling Leo”, released in 2009
2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 - The JPPC is the only Yiddish chorus to perform at the North American Jewish Choral Festival at the Hudson Valley Resort & Spa, Kerhonkson, NY
2008 - The JPPC performs its annual gala spring concert for the first time at Symphony Space
2010 - The JPPC performs for the first time in Riverside Church, as the only Jewish chorus in the 5th New York International Choral Festival
2011 - The JPPC becomes the first Yiddish chorus ever to perform standing entirely mixed
2013 - The JPPC is invited to perform (and performs) at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the 4th largest church in the world
2014 - The JPPC posts its first videos on YouTube
2016 - The JPPC performs its annual gala spring concert for the first time at Merkin Concert Hall
2021 - The JPPC changes its name to the Yiddish Philharmonic Chorus